I’ve been an Army National Guard wife for three years. In many ways, it’s been a sheer adventure, filled with memorable times. Most times, it’s been an easy ride and if I had the chance to choose it again, I would. In embracing all of the blessings, there were some things that occurred that challenged me in my relationship with God. I faced an adversity in the early days of our marriage that forced me to change. I thought the commitment my husband made to be a soldier really didn’t affect my life too much at all. I believed all I had to do was support his military endeavors and be a great wife. “Piece of cake” I mused. After we married in September 2007, he was immediately sent orders to do a three year tour at LetterKenny Army Depot in Chambersburg, PA. He had to report in December just three months into our marriage. I was so excited that our early years together would take us to a new place and welcomed the move from Florida for a season. We left in November right after Thanksgiving and I was overjoyed to be back in a northern city, not far from New York where I’d grown up. Chambersburg is a picturesque town that was small, friendly and full of charming residents. We rented a three bedroom, three bathroom townhouse and furnished it modestly. In just one month after our move, I landed a job working as a contractor at LetterKenny Depot. I would see my husband around the base during the day. How cool is that for a newlywed! I thought I was set for the next three years blessed with a new city, a new marriage and a new job. I was over the moon with joy.
In October of the following year the news I feared the most was delivered to our home. We were informed that my husband’s tour would be shortened. His Army National Guard unit was being activated to go to Iraq and immediate terror filled my soul. His orders directed us to begin packing for relocation back to Florida so that he could be reunited with his unit. I thought I was going to pass out from the idea of him leaving for the war torn region. I couldn’t believe this was happening to us and thought since I was a believer God shouldn’t let MY husband have go to such an unstable place. I was sure we had much to do in our lives together and that this new assignment wasn’t in God’s plan at all. I became convinced that this was the enemy (devil) whose goal was to not only separate me from my beloved, but also delay our ministry together. How can this be God? I thought. I began to cry privately and pray until I nearly passed out. I prayed that his orders would change. I prayed that the conflict in Iraq would end before his unit deployed. I even prayed that my husband wouldn’t pass his PT (physical training) test so that he could miss deploying altogether. I thought I wasn’t emotionally strong enough to survive a deployment. How could I live with the thought he could die at any time in Iraq for twelve months! The wives who seemed to do this successfully were like heroes to me but I didn’t want to join their ranks in this exclusive club. I sought God in fear for my husband’s life. I was half angry and half pleading with Him to change the fate of my husband’s unit. I didn’t want to be a widow and the thought terrified me. Since none of my friends or associates were military wives, all I felt was alone in my fear.
I imagine the same is true in the lives of most people. We all have something in our life that makes us confront God with a “why?” People ask why did my marriage fail, why did I get laid off, why did my child fall ill? Why, when I’m a believer would God allow such an unspeakable tragedy befall me? I’m one that loves God, pay my tithes and shares His love. However, I learned something valuable from that experience with my husband’s deployment. God wanted to show me how He uses daily circumstances as a backdrop for the massive blessing He had in store for us. He wanted to show me what real strength really was and from where it spawns. He wanted to teach me that the strength I took credit for was weak, ineffective and not steeped in faith. As a matter of fact, He showed me that even the drop in the bucket strength I relied upon was all His too. The Lord showed me that I can endure the hard days in Him and be victorious. My strength was just a modified version of my own selfish pride which led me to believe God wouldn’t let “certain things” happen to me. I thought by thinking this way, I could manipulate God. I thought God wouldn’t let me down if I embraced this belief. In reality, He was furious with me and needed to show me who was God and who needed God.
God wanted me to snap out of the false sense of security I’d created in my mind so I could focus on Him. Period..not on my new city, marriage or job. He showed me that I had to constantly keep Him and His will the center of my existence. I needed to be challenged so that I would seek God more but not for my desires which included my husband’s deployment being averted but for His will in my life. Many times we seek God only for our small circle of people. When we’re happy, blessed and healthy it’s easy to take God for granted. We tend to forget to pray for strangers, volunteer to help others or intercede prayerfully for the ailing. God wants to show us that we should trust Him with everything, even with the lives of our loved ones and the things we can’t control. This faith that I kept telling everyone I had was being tested in a way I never believed would happen. I thought God was being very unfair to my husband and me. We’d just married and I felt like God wasn’t giving us a chance. People tend to think that when adversity arises, God isn’t protecting them or answering their prayers. God always responds to us, it just may not be the way we may have envisioned.
God wants us to trust Him with everything because He knows how much we truly need Him. He wants to cultivate real strength in the life of every believer. In order for God to accomplish this objective, opposition has to present itself in our lives, sometimes in the most extreme way. In those perilous times we have to look to the word of God for comfort. He reminds us in Romans that all things work together for our good (Romans 8:28). We may not believe at the onset that negative or dangerous situations are for our perfecting but the reality is they are.
Adversity sharpens our sense of resiliency! We find out just how much of our resolve to serve Him is due to our own reasoning or a cultivated relationship. It confronts our belief system and compels us to live up to our faith or realize the lack thereof. We learn to engage God more and humbly ask for our faith to rise in order to respond to the challenge we’re faced with. When we’ve allowed God to cultivate our faith, it erases our fears. Adversity is a stark reminder that we are not in complete control of anything. My arrogance led me to believe that God wouldn’t allow my husband to be deployed. My wanting to control life events forced the Lord address my pride reminding me that no matter who I thought I was, I still needed Him. Looking back on my experience, I can now see the hand of God at every turn. My ability to trust God is solid. I have a deeper walk with the Lord and my prayer life is the most important aspect of my spiritual life now. My faith is rooted in strength that comes from the Father, not a prideful litany of memorized scriptures.
The lesson shared here is to trust the Father with your whole heart. In order to freely worship, know and appreciate our salvation, God has to be in complete control of our entire lives. So give your heart to the Father today so that He can unlock your potential by giving you true strength from the inside out.
Be encouraged child of the most high God!
Dr. Denise Joyce Williams lives in Florida with her husband who is a career soldier. Her articles have been featured in CALLED and WOW magazine. Her book entitled, “The Healing Of A Broken Vessel” was released by Publish America in March 2009. The book can be found: http://www.publishamerica.com. She can be reached via her ministry website http://www.thebrokenvessel.com. She’s currently penning her next book entitled “The Chambers Of The Heart”.